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on 17 February 2007
Having read The Hunt for Red October a couple of years ago I have been meaning to read more of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan books and finally got round to it with Patriot Games (Patriot Games is actually a prequel to The Hunt for Red October). Patriot Games was especially interesting given its `British' theme. Clancy certainly appears to like us Brits if with a slightly stereotypical eye and certainly has no sympathy for the IRA and their supporters.

As with all Clancy's books that I've read the action is fast paced and well written and his insights into how the international intelligence community operates are very interesting indeed.

The book falls down a bit however when it comes to Ryan's family life. The sentimental exchanges between Ryan and his wife get increasingly sickly and can be slow and hard going at times. Ok Clancy, we get the idea, Ryan's a good, hard working, family guy, his wife is little miss perfect and his daughter is the most cherubic child ever to walk the face of the earth, you don't have to keep banging on about it. On the subject of Ryan's wife, I couldn't help thinking that Cathy Ryan, world renowned eye surgeon, loving wife, devoted mother and full time house keeper of privileged upbringing, was just a bit too perfect. Clancy really does want the reader to think that the sun shines out of her bottom.

Over all though the book is pretty good and I will certainly be reading more of Jack Ryan's adventures in the CIA.
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on 18 April 2000
The "Jack Ryan" series of novels stand as a suberb collection of novels by Tom Clancy. Towering in presence, breathtaking in scope, intimate in detail, they offer one continous, complete story spanning some thirty years and eight books.
This is the best place to start, although it was not the first book in the series to be written - that was the Hunt for Red October. Patriot Games is far better a book than the film would suggest, and deserves your attention. For anyone who enjoys fast action thrillers, political intruigue set in our modern world, then you should buy this book. Clancy has an easy going style which is instantly readable, but never too slow.
If you intend to read the whole series, start with either this book or The Hunt for Red October. The first book is Without Remorse, but is set far earlier than the other seven and is not strictly needed. The correct order - since I get asked so often - is Without remorse, Patriot Games, Hunt for Red October, Cardinal of Kremlin, Clear and Present Danger, Sum of All fears (a truly superb book!), Debt of Honour, Exectutive Orders.
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on 14 January 2003
On vacation in London, Jack Ryan stops a terrorist attack by the Ulster Liberation Army on the Prince and Princess of Wales and their infant son. When the leader of the attack escapes from custody, Ryan and his family become targets. To defend them, Ryan goes to see his old friends at the C.I.A. and tells them he wants back in. The climax of the book is another attack on the terrorists at Ryan's own home where the Prince and Princess are dinner guests. "Patriot Games" is an atypical Tom Clancy novel in that is the Jack Ryan book least reliant on cutting edge technology, dealing more with the consequences of Jack's choices for his family and his career.
In is interesting to read this 1987 book knowing that filming it turned Tom Clancy against selling the movie rights of his books to Hollywood (although apparently the powers that be can have their own way with the Jack Ryan character). The problem, of course, was the final scene. In the film, Harrison Ford's character kills Sean Miller at the end of an exciting fistfight on a speeding boat. In the book, Jack Ryan does not shoot his gun at the fatal moment so that he can tell his newborn son, "Your father isn't a murderer." Clancy's conservative inclinations are well known, but forcing him into a fascist stereotype really misses the point, especially when it tries to make his hero some sort of a reactionary.
"Patriot Games" takes back several years before the events described in "The Hunt for Red October," where the Sir John Ryan backstory is certainly alluded to at a couple of points. I wondered if maybe Clancy had simply written this novel first but could not get it published, yet one of the strengths of his work over the years has been the detailed backgrounds on the various characters (the best examples are probably Red Wegener and Ding Chavez in "Clear and Present Danger," where the complete backgrounds are given although one is a minor character in the novel and the other goes on to be a main supporting character). One of the reason I always liked this book is because of the pure audacity of making members of the Royal Family main supporting characters, especially Prince Charles, who has continued to pop up from time to time.
This is the book where Clancy dropped the annoying subtitles used in his first two novels. In retrospect "Patriot Games" is a much more intimate novel than what is follows. Certainly the threat is much more personal, targeting Ryan and his family. With Clancy's tendency to tell stories where nuclear war is a distinct possibility, this becomes an atypical effort, similar to "Without Remorse," which supplies the complete backstory on John Clark. Another reason for the feeling of intimacy is that Clancy's novels have tended to get longer and longer. Final note: people who have read these book in the "correct chronological order" find "Red October" to be something of a step backwards, so the best advice remains to read them in the order they were written
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on 22 August 2000
"Ryan was nearly killed twice in half an hour"
As soon as the reader reads this first sentence of this book, he or she knows that she will not be able to put the book down until the last assassination has failed.
When Jack Ryan, a history teacher from America, foils a plan to kidnap the "Prince of Wales", he immediately becomes the number one target of the terrorists he foils.
The terrorists then follow him back to the US to plot their revenge. The last of these schemes leading to a mouth-watering climax.
Of all of the Clancy books I have read, this one is one for the beginner as well as the seasoned veteran
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on 7 August 2000
I am a great fan of Tom Clancy's books. I first read The Cardinal of the Kremlin last year and then Rainbow Six. When I read Patriot Games this summer I really enjoyed it. I have now read many in the Jack Ryan series and Patriot Games is one of the best. My favourite part had to be the gunfight at Ryans home near the end but the whole book is really good. S.F aged 13
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on 26 November 2016
Despite being thirty years old, Patriot Games never feels dated as it follows Jack Ryan’s efforts to do the right thing while protecting his family. Jack Ryan is a well realised character with a conscience and flaws, all of which make him as realistic as any to be found within the pages of a book; contrasting him are the terrorists, who have a deadly goal and are prepared to kill anyone that gets in their way to achieve it – they are not rabid, indiscriminate killers, though, they’re intelligent and they have a plan.

While there’s no doubt who we’re supposed to root for, Tom Clancy has done a good job of showing that terrorists are not all mindless, suicidal bombers, which makes them all the more frightening. He also shows the work done quietly, out of the spotlight, by the security services who fight such men and woman on a daily business.

In this age of increased terrorist activity, Patriot Games gives an important insight into the war being fought to protect us all.
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on 25 February 2005
Patriot Games is more of a traditional thriller, though there's still a bit of techno-stuff going on. The explosive opening sequence is great. The attack on Ryan's wife tense. The climax heart-pounding. Its a pity the rest of the book isn't quite so interesting.
After the terrorist attack at the beginning, the book is agonizingly slow, with far too much time spent on Ryan's recovery. Then we get the ludicrous meetings with the Queen, Prince Philip, and ol' Charlie boy. Then there's his stay at Buckingham Palace! Then the trial which seems a tad too melodramatic to be realistic. Then a totally unnecessary travelogue-like passage of Ryan and family's flight to DC on Concorde. Its not till Sean Miller is rescued that it starts to get a bit more interesting. Ryan goes back to the CIA to investigate the terrorists, but his conclusion that the terrorists won't come after him rather predictably proves wrong. After the attack on Ryan's wife, the book alternates between soap opera and spy thriller and its not till the climax that things pick up. But then the climax, exciting as it is, is made plain silly with Charles and Di's involvement.
Read it if you want, it isn't a bad book, but its just too stupid for me, and certainly not in the same league as Clancy's better novels.
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on 15 July 2002
Patriot Games is quite simply, the best action thriller I have ever read. Clancy is a true master of suspense, and grips the reader right from his very first line - 'Ryan was nearly killed twce in half an hour'. What follows is a gripping tale of drama, political relations and the love of a man for his family. Two words for this book - READ IT
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on 26 May 2015
Really good - I'm going back and re-reading all of Clancy's novels (up to The Bear and the Dragon - they quickly became worse than bad after that one). Another fast paced Clancy book. All of his books up to The Bear and the Dragon are great reads, and this is no exception. The first one in the Jack Ryan series chronologically (The Hunt for Red October was written first) this is typical Clancy - a great, fast paced read with excellent action. It also suffers from the often clunky dialogue the habit for the different characters to speak in the same way. But overall an excellent read.
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on 7 November 2008
I am 3/4 of the way through this book and it's very engrossing, I must admit. However, the parts concerning the Royal Family had me squirming in embarrassment. The Duke of Edinburgh would never escort someone other than close family from a hospital, and the Queen would not accommodate at Buck House the family of someone who'd ostensibly saved the lives of her son and daughter in law. Protocol and security issues would never allow it. Also it's doubtful if a knighthood could be conferred on a US citizen and even if an honorary one, he couldn't use the 'Sir'.

I mention this because Clancy seems to strive for truthfulness and reality in all other instances. I also agree with another reviewer's opinion that the dialogue is stilted. Particularly between Ryan and his wife to whom I took an active dislike.

However, apart from these quibbles it's still hard to put down book!
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